Tara O’Leary, Staff Writer |
As the NFL approached last week’s trade deadline, fans saw players find new homes. With the season’s halfway point now in the rearview, many are looking ahead to their future. Whether that future means the postseason or preparing for next year depends on the team.
Before their Week 9 game, the Arizona Cardinals released quarterback Sam Bradford. The move came on Saturday, November 3, and ended Bradford’s stint with the team at eight weeks. The veteran quarterback started for the Cardinals throughout the first three games this season but was benched with minutes left to play in their Week 3 game against the Bears. Since then, first round draft pick Josh Rosen has taken over the offense. While his play hasn’t been overly impressive, the team as a whole has been mostly unsuccessful.
The Los Angeles Rams are no longer undefeated thanks to the New Orleans Saints. The previously 8-0 powerhouse team lost on Sunday in a high scoring game. Drew Brees led the Saints high powered offense to a 45-35 victory. New Orleans had a 21 point lead at one point in the first half, but by the fourth quarter the Rams had chipped that lead down to just 3. With under four minutes to play, Brees had a choice to make. He could play it safe and keep the clock moving or he could take a shot downfield. Brees chose the latter and hit Michael Thomas on a deep route, extending their lead to 10. “Ever since I’ve played here, even the first stint, the way we’ve won is by being aggressive,” said Saints tight end Ben Watson. Their aggressive style of offense was a huge factor in earning the win. However, their defense was also a key component. Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said their game plan was “eleven guys to the ball.” With this mindset they were able to hold Rams running back Todd Gurley to 79 total yards, marking only the third time this year that he failed to hit over one-hundred.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers faced off against Tom Brady and the Patriots last Sunday night. With the game tied at the start of the fourth quarter, Packers running back Aaron Jones fumbled in Patriot territory. New England recovered, and momentum went their way for the remainder of the game. Brady and the Pats had a 14 point fourth quarter, and the Packers failed to respond. The Patriots went on to win 31-17, and Aaron Rodgers remains frustrated with the way his team is playing. After back to back losses, with fumbles at key points in the game, his frustration is understandable. “We’re hurting ourselves with negative yardage plays and missed throws and turnovers at the wrong time, not being on the same page too many times. Whether I’m missing a throw or we’re not in the spot I think we’re going to be at, it’s happening in the worst times,” said Rodgers after the game. “When we have to play our best in those crunch times, we haven’t been playing our best.”
Over in Baltimore the Steelers defeated the Ravens, earning themselves a 23-16 victory and extending their record to 5-2-1. Running back James Connor finished with 163 total yards and a touchdown. Conner has had at least 100 yards in his last four games, helping lead Pittsburgh to victory in each one. With Conner’s success it seems as if the team has distanced themselves from Le’Veon Bell, who is still holding out. “Honestly, no one cares anymore,” said Steelers guard David DeCastro, “I have to block some of the best players on the best defense in the world. Do you think I’m going to worry about a guy who’s not here?” If Bell wants to play at all this season he has to return to the team by November 13.
Meanwhile, for Baltimore the loss increased pressure on head coach John Harbaugh. The Ravens currently sit at third place in their division halfway through a season where Harbaugh likely needs to make the playoffs if he wants to keep his job. He has lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl in the past, but the Ravens have not made the playoffs since 2014, time is running out for Harbaugh in Baltimore.